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Ex-Gov. Barbour 'very comfortable' with pardons

Ex-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he's 'very comfortable' with end-of-term pardons By The Associated Press

RIDGELAND, Miss. (AP) ' Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Friday he's "very comfortable" with his decision to grant pardons or other clemency to more than 200 people, including convicted murders, in his last days in office.

Barbour said during his first interview on the pardons that nearly 190 of the people who got pardons or other reprieves had already been released from prison.

Barbour said only 10 have been or will be fully released from prison. Barbour said it's a tradition in Mississippi for governors to free the trusties who worked at the Governor's Mansion. Four killers freed Sunday were trusties. He said state corrections officials pick those people, who are usually men convicted of crimes of passion.

Barbour said he's "fully confident the pardons and other clemency I have given are all valid."

"Let's get the facts straight. Of the 215 who received clemency, 189 were not let out of jail. They were already out of jail," he said.

Barbour said Mississippians are mostly Christian people.

"I believe in second chances and I try hard to be forgiving," he said. "I am very comfortable and totally at peace with these pardons."

Attorney General Jim Hood, the only Democrat remaining in statewide elected office in Mississippi, denounced Barbour's actions as "shameful" and possibly unconstitutional. Hood persuaded a state judge to temporarily block release of 21 inmates Barbour had ordered freed and to require that the convicted murderers check in with authorities. Hood said his investigation showed some of the inmates hadn't completed a constitutionally required notification to the public in areas where their crimes were committed.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green ordered that the release of 21 inmates be put on hold until it could be determined they met the requirements.

On Friday, Barbour said he didn't anticipate the pardons would become centered on politics, though he expected some backlash.

"What I didn't think was that politicians would go out and tell the public we let 200 people out of the penitentiary. I didn't anticipate this would be all about politics," said Barbour, a Republican who left office earlier this week.

Barbour said some of the same Mississippi politicians who attacked him had also asked him to pardon people.

He charged that Hood didn't object when Barbour's predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, released convicted killers who worked at the Governor's Mansion.

Barbour said his father died when he was 2 years old. And when his grandfather, a judge, became disabled, an inmate was assigned to help him.

"I watched the power of a second chance and what it did for Leon Turner," he said.

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